Independence Days Update: Days of Warmth and Tomato Plants

Sharon May 17th, 2010

We had a wonderful weekend with lots of friends and socializing and absolutely no garden work, which was awesome in its way, but now, things go flat out.  Eric’s grading has to be done this afternoon, and then the Garden Serf (as he calls himself, I did not call him that) gets to slaving with his scythe (the lawn is past the capacity of the push mower) and his shovel. I really, really need to get the garden beds ready to plant, because it is going to be sunny and 70s all week.

I should not succumb to the temptation to plant out everything in sight.  It is, after all, only mid-March, and realistically, we could still have frost (last week we hit 24, remember, and my last frost date last year was freain’ June 1!!!).  Or hail (twice in late May since I’ve been here).  Or a plague of elephants (not yet, although I’m sure it will happen, since everything else does).

But it is going to be sunny and in the 70s for a whole week!!!!!  How am I to restrain myself?  How, may I ask you?

Last week was pretty good - I got the side garden beds weeded and mostly planted, except for the ones I didn’t (the perennial beds on the side of the house, the enclosed forest garden and the old herb bed which will now be something else, but I haven’t decided what yet.  Two of our main garden beds are built (all 4×20, so we only have to make…a buttload more).  The peas look good, the asparagus is doing well, I’ve got a clever plan for more asparagus.  

Two apples and two hazelnuts arrived by mail and heeled in, and the strawberries are actually mulched and replanted.   The house actually got cleaned, which is good.  But oy, am I behind. It would be really helpful if I could get some of the damned tomatoes, of which I have too many into the ground.  But I know that I will be punished if I succumb.

My big aesthetic accomplishment was turning the stone wall in the side yard into a rock garden.  Mediterranean herbs never have really liked my climate, but I’m hoping this, the ultimate in drainage and reflective warmth will do better.  It does look awfully pretty, too - I’ll try and put pictures up this week.

I’ve started to preserve rhubarb, mostly because we’re totally out of jam.  That’s about it for preserving though.  Oh, and I made ground ivy tincture, because I can.

We’ve decided that the goats are not pregnant (or rather, they are pregnant, but they aren’t kidding until August) and have relaxed our kidding watch.  On the other hand, we arrived for a weekend visit at our friends with the Nigerian Dwarf goats three minutes after the birth of triplet kids, and I’m hoping to buy their little buck, so maybe I’ll get a baby to play with anyway.  And August, of course, will be overflowing with goats and kids.

I’m having a slow day today - I’ve got brain rot or something, and I can’t focus on anything but the weather.  So forgive the weak ID report - there probably is stuff, but I’ve forgotten it all, so dazzled am I by the sight of the sunshine.

Planted: Late peas, beans, chard, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, kale, asparagus, beets, alyssum, hollyhocks, roses, lemon balm, yarrow, alpine strawberries, lettuce, bok choy, onions.

Harvested: Sorrel, chard, lettuce, garlic mustard, nettles, chickweed, kale, good king henry, raspberry leaves, rhubarb, asparagus, eggs, milk.

Preserved: Made rhubarb jam.

Waste Not: Nothing new

Want Not: Nothing new.

Eat the Food: Nothing new.

Build community food systems: Huh? 


17 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Days of Warmth and Tomato Plants”

  1. Evey says:

    Well I’m home today because I fell down some graveled stairs yesterday and really beat up my knees and shins- ouch and ache today.

    Planted- Well family up at WV farm: 3 kinds of corn including popcorn for the first time, pie pumpkins among the corn, sunflower starts, 3 Stupice tomato plants I left them last weekend and a rhubarb. Here on NC I divided and potted up Crazy Daisy Chrysanthemuns, Indian Summer Rudbekia, and seeded hardy leeks for next over-wintering, more basils.
    I have a ton of starts here that I will take up over Memorial Day.

    Harvest- They are eating tons of salad and greens at the farm. I am no longer involved with our cohousing gardens so I don’t get to harvest here but community members often gift me.

    Preserved- nope- into using up, eating the food

    Want Not/ Waste Not- I got two great freebie give-aways from the community give-away table. A lovely “new” wrought iron trellis that will be great for the clematis my sister-in-law is trying to get going at the farm. Also a never worn that I can tell, pair of brown suede clogs that fit me perfectly and are nice enough to teach in if I GET A JOB in WV.

    I am giving away many of my books and dodads to other younger teachers as I finish up this school year.

    Community Food systems - not food but check out this video - -of the “shop raising” we had last Labor Day at the farm. That is my DH Jim and many neighbors from “our Road” as well as 12 members form Westwood Cohousing that drove up to help. I am in the kitchen cooking and cleaning or in the garden with about 3 women helping out there. We are moving from one great community to another- more rural and with family.

  2. abbie says:

    Planted: peas, lettuce varieties, spinach, cukes, leeks, scallions, potatoes, sunflowers, herbs, rhubarb

    Harvested: nothing yet

    Preserved: nope

    Waste Not: same

    Want Not: same

    Eat the Food: same

    Build community food systems: took the baby to his first farmers markets

  3. ET says:

    It is, after all, only mid-March, … I wish!

  4. Michelle says:

    I can’t put my garden in until the rabbits are out of it. I can’t move the rabbits until the barn gets built, and I can’t get the barn built because the wankers in charge of building permits are sitting on their thumbs. Ugh.

    What do you use ground ivy tincture for?

  5. Lynne says:

    Hey Sharon, I thought at one point you were going to embrace your inner slacker :) Maybe your inner slacker went missing and you are just left with your inner go-getter for now. My slacker is alive and well, but I still got a few things done in this glorious weather, not least of which was that I got to return to work after breaking my kneecap in January! Yay!

    Plant: corn, dried beans, snap beans - pole and bush, acorn squash, butternut squash, cucumbers, zucchini, pattypan squash (I’m having poor germination of squashes this year, I think I had them too cool and way too wet); planted out tomatoes and peppers (we once had a frost here on June 11th, but what the hell, I like to live dangerously and the peppers are in a tunnel); scarlet runner beans in flats as were heading into a cool spell; tarragon, basil, calendula, strawflowers, more lettuces, marigolds, rudbeckia; sage - edible and ornamental, thyme, rhubarb, lavender

    Harvest: lettuce, spinach, asparagus, green onion, basil, eggs, kale

    Preserved: Nope

    Waste not: the usual

    Want not: furniture switch with my in-laws. dining room furniture that each suited the other house better, so we switched and everyone is thrilled with the result; added some wardrobe and bookshelf for food storage so our squashes, garlic and onions which stored 8 months and counting won’t sit on the dining room floor for 8 months and counting next year

    Community: no….

    Eat: greens twice daily continues; eggs+++; eating leftovers out of the freezer, etc….

    Ok, must get off my butt and into the garden

  6. Jennie says:

    Here’s mine!

    Rhubarb is the name of the game this past week.

  7. Anisa says:

    Mine is up this week - Been struggling to blog a bit - usually I do better in the winter and in the spring and summer I’m too busy outside to post - this year seems opposite. One thing not on the post are the grape vine cuttings my husband brought home from the neighbors and planted today! Yippee!!

  8. The Mom says:

    Mine is up at my blog

    It’s getting very busy now.

  9. aimee says:

    planted: italian parsley and scarlet runner beans. Transplanted: zucchini and pumpkins

    harvested: radishes and salad greens

    preserved: three quarts pickled asparagus

    waste not: um… fed some leftovers to the dogs….. composting and chicken scraps

    want not: building a 10 x 12 greenhouse, hope to have it ready in two to three weeks

    community: working the trade network hard! eggs go out, veggies come in!

    eat the food: yup, all the time!

  10. KC says:

    Finally all (or most) of the tomatoes are in the ground. They are looking good. Now rain, rain, rain is in store. Hope they will be happy. I just posted most of last weeks planting efforts on last weeks IDC listing , yesterday. Lots and lots of greens are everywhere. I really need to get a better handle on quantities. My original impulse is to grow as much as possible … but now I see how much work it is on the other end. Once I have all this food, I must preserve it and then eat it. (we don’t have any livestock to share extra produce with).

    plant: transplanted tomatoes (24) and peppers (9). transplanted leeks. I mulched them with soapstone - hope that warms them and keeps them happy.

    harvest: armloads of greens, vitamin greens have become huge and wild garden kale is everywhere plus lots of lettuces, mild mustards, and endive. also dill, cilantro, burdock and parsley (from last year),and radishes (love the easter egg radishes!)

    preserve: no … but I am seriously considering starting up a batch of kim chi with all the greens and radishes that are everywhere. Am I ready for this?

    waste not: mulching with brewery waste (spent grains) and dug some peat out of an old tree stump to lighten up some garden soil. using some recycled barn boards to build terraces for the beds. foliar spray made from soaked chickweed and goat manure.

    want not: found a salad spinner at the thrift store. I’d like to eventually wash and spin salad greens (and roots) while at the garden - before bringing them into the house.

    eat the food: potato stews, roasted squash seeds with salt. finished up the last of dried green beans (good in stews), wild mushrooms, strawberries wih homemade kefir, pancakes and waffles made with hubbard squash from the freezer. more potato dishes and sweet potato dishes (sliced and grilled). lots of salads with fresh greens, radishes, feta and walnuts.

    build community food systems: extra heirloom tomato plants going to friends. sharing greens and sweet potatoes with friends and neighbors.

  11. Ms Betterhome says:

    Plant something: more broccoli rabe & tuscan kale - this time in seedling trays (hoping for better germination & new growth post caterpillar infestation)

    Harvest something: lettuce (radiccio, cos, mizuna), parsley, basil, mint, spring onions, pak choy thinnings, snow pea tips.

    Preserved something: not this week.

    Waste not: usual composting, worm-farming & recycling.

    Want not: Re-stocked supplies of favourite marinated tofu for quickie dinners.

    Build Community Food Systems: Just a little bit of blogging about CSA box.

    Eat the food: Home-made pumpkin gnocchi with ‘deconstructed vegan pesto’ (ie heated garlic/chilli olive oil tossed through the pasta with toasted nuts & torn basil leaves), tamale pie with coleslaw & homemade peach salsa, pancakes with homemade cherry jam.

  12. Gina says:

    I am so, so, so tired of wet and cold…

    I should call these IDC weekend updates as that is really when I do most of the work. Sr took extra work and won’t be home until Wednesday, so I am flying solo on the accomplishments this week. I am trying to get the garden in, but the weather is still not cooperating too much.

    Planted: Nectarine, damson plum and wild plum trees; mammoth and Anne raspberries; Apache blackberry; America and seedless concord grape vines (thank goodness tree and shrub planting is done for the year…wait, I still have five blueberries to plant); 75 tomatoes (let’s see, I have Rutgers, Amish paste, Mr. Stripey, yellow and red brandywine, mountain spring, German Johnson); 30 peppers (jalapeno, bell, cayenne, sweet cherry, cow horn, pimento, Serrano); scallop and zucchini squash seeds; asparagus beans ( I am still waiting for half of the garden to dry out some-hopefully by tomorrow); built chicken wire guards for the young fruit trees and shrubs (thanks for sharing your tree heartache with us, Sharon, it motivated me to get something done to protect mine!)

    Harvested: Eggs; raspberry leaves; thinned radish, turnip and chard greens; green onions (we will definitely be getting a salad this week)

    Farmer’s Market: 5 lbs of rhubarb; Valdalia onions (actually from Shriner’s’ sale and not local. Need to use quickly, so I gave some to in-laws)

    Preserved: I need to get on this soon (rhubarb)

    Want Not: Lake near to us had annual garage sales. We ended up finding some great, cheap things at the two we stopped to browse: brand new Carharts coveralls (Sr’s size); a wooden cutting board; Coleman heavy duty lantern; planting pots; wool pea coat for me; two old cookbooks (like to look at canning recipes and modernize). Elected to fix stupid truck (again, third time since February). I hope the dumb thing makes it until fall when we can decide what we will do. With the larger livestock on the farm and trailers and such that need to be pulled,w e have to have at least one truck. We try really hard to keep them in good shape (e.g. regular oil changes, etc.), but the truck is just falling apart and none of what has broken has been cheap to fix. We have a lot of miles on this one, but it is PIF and I really don’t want another vehicle payment. I do often feel like I am working just for my vehicles (vicious cycle: need vehicle for commute, live far from my office, work to pay for vehicle needed for commute). The other vehicle (a car) is not really doing all that well either (new alternator a couple of weeks ago). Actually, everything seems to be wearing out at the same time: Washer is on fritz (we’ve milked it alone for some time); lawn mower needs new blades. I wonder what will out-right die first.

    Waste Not: Scavenged nice, heavy duty plastic pots for the greenhouse from MIL (she had thrown them away! I dug them out of the trash)-she plans to save them for me the rest of the year. Used a rusty roll of chicken wire for the tree guards. Started building chicken tractor for adolescent chicks using wood we salvaged from one of the campers. Used these old metal rings left here at the property by previous residents around nectarine and plum tree.

    Community: Supported local farmer’s market and Shriner’s this week.

    Eat the Food: Made a great onion and tomato lentil stew (using canned tomatoes and stored pardina or Spanish lentils). We are still eating from the pantry and freezers. We make misc. meals out of what is there. I will definitely make the lentil stew again. Hummus with peppers (ours from freezer); rhubarb custard; turkey breast with mesquite peppery rub (freezer and pantry); nibbled thinnings and onions from the garden; always lots of egg dishes (particularly hard boiled eggs which are an easy thing to grab so I don’t skip breakfast).

  13. AnneT says:

    Planted: beets, later sugar snap peas, started zucchini, Trail of Tears beans, Malabar spinach, and regular cucumbers indoors. Set yellow snap peas and Blue Lake beans to pre-sprout before planting.

    Harvest: rhubarb, garlic chives, sorrel.

    Preserve: Rhubarb juice concentrate, rhubarb pulp to combine with berries for spreads.

    Waste not: picked up another detergent jug with spout for outdoor handwashing, a cat litter jug to water my blueberry bush, and a sturdy plant tray for the greenhouse from the neighborhood recycling.

    Want not: more shelves for the greenhouse from scrap lumber.

    Build community food systems: Friday evening workshop of my “Planting the Seeds of Change” weekend was showing others how to make seed tapes, newspaper pots, and seed packets. Six people went home with starting materials for urban gardens with help from others.

    Eat the food: sprout salad at the weekend with garlic chives, sorrel leaves, and grated local carrots. Fruit crisp with local apples, Ontario blueberries, and my own rhubarb. Chili made with local grass-fed beef, my own salsa verde and garden salsa.

  14. Gabrielle says:

    My husband spent last week in Middle Tennessee performing emergency response bridge inspection work. In case you haven’t read or heard in the news, most of the counties in Tennessee were flooded with Nashville perhaps being one of the hardest hit cities. While we very much missed him and it was hard having him away for so long, I’m very proud of the work he did to help the people of that area.

    With on again off again rains and my attending the Alzheimer’s Symposium on Thursday and Friday, I didn’t make it to the garden as much as I would have liked. The garden was faithful to us, though, and continued producing without missing my attention. We harvested as much as we could eat with still enough to share with a friend.

    My father is staying with us while he is working on his home, and I see how he watches me when I’m in the garden. Almost every time that I come back to the house from working in the gardens, he talks about my grandfather and how much he would have loved to see me gardening and canning. My father has a belief that gardening skips a generation. While he has grown tomatoes and hot peppers for years, he only remembers having one big garden that he planted. Perhaps seeing our garden is inspiring him, though, because he talks about the many plants and trees that he wants to add to his home landscape.

    Plant—Nothing planted this week. I can’t believe it, but I didn’t manage to get anything into the ground. Yikes!

    Harvest—From our home garden/farm: peas (sugar snap and snow peas), bok choy, beet greens and 1 beet, iceberg (yes, I am probably the only home gardener ever to plant iceberg, but I picked a summer iceberg variety and have enjoyed it. It has a lot more flavor than traditional iceberg and is perfect with tacos and sandwiches), romaine, butterhead, spinach, garlic scapes, spring onions, radishes, broccoli raab, herbs. We also picked 28 lbs of strawberries at Rutherford’s strawberry and broccoli farm in Maryville, TN. We saw one of our daughter’s teachers with her mother and just as we were leaving saw a lady from church with her son. Miss Shirley, the church friend, is the lady who said she would help me with preserving some of the foods from the church garden this year. I told them that it felt very Andy Griffith show to be picking strawberries and run into friends.

    Preserve—I made 3 batches of strawberry jam, 2 batches of strawberry buttermilk sherbet (recipe on my site), and froze about 3+ gallons worth. Froze a few chopped spring onions.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste— Used a few odds and ends from the freezer to make way for this season’s fruits and veggies. Used some coffee grounds around the tomatoes. Resisted the urge to buy a wardrobe for our daughter at Gymboree this weekend (there was a big sale and I had a 30% off coupon). I decided that I could spend $50+ dollars for a few pieces of clothes for her or the same amount for an abundance of clothes at a consignment sale or shop. Almost as if to reinforce my decision, friends at church said that they have a few bags of clothes to give her as hand-me-downs. She was thrilled, as was I.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage—I estimate that we now have a year’s supply of strawberry jam in the cupboard after having canned this weekend. We should have enough strawberries in the freezer for a year as well. Since it looks like we might have more peas than I originally thought we would, I might try to blanch and freeze some of the sugar snaps.

    Building Community Food Systems— Church garden was a little too wet to work this week, but I have seeds reserved to plant if I’m ever able to do so. Visited a pick-your-own farm, mentioned above, and I’ve been sending friends, relatives, and readers to pick there. When we were picking a few weeks ago, I noticed a farm just down from the strawberry patch that was selling cage free, hormone free eggs. Since the chickens were in sight and obviously happily eating bugs and grass, we decided to give it a try. We bought three dozen large eggs for only $6! While the yolks aren’t as dark as some that I’ve had, the shells were strong, yolks were large, and they were significantly deeper in color than the junk from the grocery store. The older gentleman who answered the door seemed pleased we stopped by. Our daughter made friends with his dog and delighted in seeing his guinea hens running the yard. I was about as happy as I could be when I looked at our trunk—dirty boots, buckets and baskets heaping with fresh strawberries, and local eggs.

    A friend who knew that I was making jam came over for a tutorial on Saturday afternoon. She bartered a quart or so of strawberries for the lesson. The gesture was very much appreciated, though not necessary. I must say that I love having a barter to report in this update. ;) Our children played while we canned. Later I showed her and her son the garden. I told him that I was taking him down to our “candy machine”, and all the way down to the garden he kept looking around as if knowing that I wasn’t taking him to an actual candy machine. With a sly grin I told him that the pea patch was our candy machine, that he could pick all he wanted, and could eat his fill. He seemed to like this form of candy, and I sent him home with a bag full of goodies from the garden to share with the rest of their family.

    Eat the Food— I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the greens from the garden this year. In particular the last of the kale, the baby bok choy, and the broccoli raab have been tasty. It has been nice to pick bowls of salad that almost overflow with abundance. However, I don’t think anything could top the strawberry buttermilk sherbet! Delightful!

  15. Lise says:

    My latest update is on my blog here:

  16. Claire says:

    Wet, wet, wet this past week in St. Louis - nearly 6 inches of rain at our house, which was located near the area that got the heaviest rain (official total is nearer 3 inches). Cool as well, mostly highs in the upper 50sF to lower 60sF. Finally seeing the sun today! (but it’s supposed to rain *again* later this week)

    Plant: dill in the herb garden; cabbage, collard, bok choy, broccoli, and zinnia seeds in a flat. All but the zinnias are intended to be fall crops and will be planted as large seedlings in late June or early July (the zinnia seedlings will be planted earlier than that, as soon as they and the garden space are ready). I do much better planting good-sized seedlings than seeds for fall crops (and most other crops as well - the slugs and cutworms are hard on tiny seedlings). I also moved big clumps of garlic chives and horseradish plants out of the annual veggie beds into new locations with other perennial plants. It was a great week for moving plants, what with the cool and very wet conditions.

    Harvest: lettuce, kale, collards, lambsquarters, green onions, strawberries. The DH brought home some more of the coral mushroom he found in a local wooded area.

    Preserve: lambsquarters. Now that the sun is out and the lambsquarters good-sized, I finally got to use the solar-heated food dehydrator my DH finished building last fall to dry the lambsquarters. It seems to be working very well. My goal is to use it every reasonably sunny day that I have something to dry from now through fall. (Dried lambsquarters are used in winter soups and stews.)

    Waste not: the usual, particularly saving brown paper bags and cardboard for use as mulch liners (put down over lawn areas that I want to convert to garden beds and then mulched - easiest way to kill grass I’ve found yet).

    Want not: bought more garden fencing and fence posts so I can add 500 square feet of veggie and strawberry growing area. Ordered a 500 gallon water tank so we can collect rainwater from the garage roof to use for irrigating the veggie gardens. (We have to contrive a pumping system to get it uphill to the gardens - it’s only a few feet uphill, but it’s still uphill.)

    Build community food systems: gave strawberries to our neighbors. We keep posting about the gardens on Facebook and plying guests with homemade beer and wine - some of our guests asked us how to make beer and wine. Maybe some of them will actually try it for themselves.

    Eat the food: more glorious strawberries. First salads of the season (lettuce, green onions, lambsquarters) - nearly as good as the strawberries. The DH made a rice pilaf from odds and ends including shiitake mushrooms, dried hot peppers, leftover salsa, and lambsquarters that we both liked a lot.

  17. maria says:

    I haven’t written for a while- so can I boast about evrything I’ve planted this spring? (this is not one week of planting- more like a month)

    Planted: plums, grapes, bush cherries , elderberries, hazelnuts, black raspberries, hardy kiwi, black currants, gooseberries, red currants, jostaberries, honeyberries, blueberries, juneberries, sea buckthorn, autumn olive, mulberries, chestnuts, pine nuts…. 335 planted!! only 22 to go. about half mulched. My vegetable garden suffers though- only planted a few peas, onions, radishes, lettuce. No starts at all. But I wanted to concentrate on the big stuff this year.

    harvested: rhubarb, thyme, lettuce, arugula, spinach, perennial onion

    preserved: ?? no

    waste not: slowly eating through the freezer- trying to make meals with the less popular items (like lamb liver). Got the road crew to deliver 2 huge loads of free woodchips!!

    want not: nothing stored at all, nothing. If peak oil (or some other catastrophe) were to happen right now, we would be screwed. We could probably live on our sheep and chickens for about 3 months.

    community: planted apple trees for my mother, also some vegetables. need to do rooster exchange.

    eat: aforementioned lamb livers, lots of salads, eggs, chicken.

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